On Friday, 193 member states of the United Nations General Assembly, including South Africa, will observe World Drowning Prevention Day for the first time ever, following a resolution that was unanimously adopted by the United Nations General Assembly earlier this year.
According to the UN, the world’s highest drowning rates are in Africa, and in South Africa, drowning is the second leading cause of accidental death.
Over the past 53 years the NSRI have helped reduce the number of deaths by drowning. Their water safety education programme, established in 2006, targets the most vulnerable children.
In South Africa, drowning rates are highest among children under four years of age, followed by children aged five to 14 years. In the case of very young children, 70% of drowning deaths take place in or around the home in ponds, pools, bathtubs and buckets.
The NSRI engages with communities and community leaders, schools, policymakers, municipalities and the public to share knowledge, collaborate, educate, and fund resources to address this critical public health issue that is largely under acknowledged, yet highly preventable.
As a result, a number of initiatives have been introduced targeting high-risk areas and communities across the country. These include water-safety lessons in schools, pop-up survival swimming classes at public swimming pools, free water-safety learning materials, and the roll-out of Pink Rescue Buoys at beaches and dams.
On Sunday, at Rocklands Beach in Sea Point, the NSRI will set up the Pink Rescue Buoys in the number 75, representing the number of people who have been rescued using the Pink Rescue Buoys, as well as hand over awards to the three men who rescued a person in danger at Rooiels a couple of weeks ago. The Pink Rescue Buoy display and award handover will take place at 9am.